Romney says bin Laden “deluded”

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spoke early this morning in Cherokee, Iowa.  After his "Ask Mitt Anything" event, he answered a few questions from reporters.

Henderson:  "In your remarks, you talked about Osama bin Laden being delusional.  Could you expand on that?"

Romney: "Oh, I think his comments as a radical jihadist and the idea of people converting to Islam under the threat of coersion — these kinds of principles are not in line with, if you will, rational thought, in my view.  I think the whole radical jihadist movement is extraordinarily misguided and evil and is a form of delusion, but I believe that the people of the world recognize that.  I think when he makes tapes like this it hurts his effort.  It doesn’t help it and I was in some respects thankful that he reminded the people of the world what the face of evil looks like, that his message of conversion through coersion — striking at the foundations of civilization through terror, that that message needs to be heard from time to time because there is this global effort of people who wish to bring down all civilization and destroy life and categorize people based on their faith and this is something which is a very frightening but very real threat."

Later, as Romney was walking away, I asked him where he had seen the video. He said he had seen it on the television in his hotel room (he overnighted in Cherokee). I mistakenly referenced the video as the "Obama" video, however, which was pointed out to me by one of Romney’s staff as the group walked away.  Oops.  Laughter from the small cluster of reporters drew Romney to turn back around and add, "When you were asking it, I thought what Obama tape?"  More laughter.  I was urged to blog about my error by campaign staff (you know who you are, Tim Albrecht).  There.  I have done it

UPDATED:  Romney’s "Ask Mitt Anything" event in Cherokee is blogged below.

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ABC’s Democratic debate

Top of the morning to you.  Once again, a few reporters are getting a last blast of nicotine but this mornign they’re standing outside on the balcony of Drake University’s Cartwright Hall.  Two Sundays ago for the GOP debate, they had to stand under that balcony to shelter from the torrential rain.

For that GOP debate, the only real cluster of supporters waving signs outside were chanting for Ron Paul.  This time around there are large groups of enthusiastic supporters and you could hear their chanting from blocks away. 

Interesting. We’re watching WOI-TV in the Radio Room set up for this debate, and in the moments before the debate is to begin — there’s a Barack Obama commercial.  Next up, ED in ’08 runs a commercial. 

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos is no the screen — mentioning at the on-set that this debate is "sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee."  That, of course, is relevant because of the Obama statement yesterday that he will not support in any forum that is NOT sanctioned by the DNC.

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Republican debate on ABC in DSM

As I was driving down 31st Street at about 6:30 a.m. this Sunday, a rainbow seemed to be beaming out of the roof of the Kum ‘N Go Convenience Store at 31st and University — just down the street from Drake University where the debate is to be staged.  Despite the rainbow, the rain continued to pour.  Reporters arriving to cover the debate were caught in the deluge. If you’re watching the debate at home in half an hour, if the candidates have dark splotches on their suits, it may have been the rain.

As I drove closer to the venue this morning, I passed a group of Ron Paul supporters standing across the street from the Drake campus, waving their signs.  It was impossible to count the group through the pouring rain, but they could be heard inside my car above the din of the drumming rain. 

The GM of WOI-TV is speaking with folks assembled in the auditorium where the debate is to be staged, advising them to stay seated for the next couple of hours.  Drake University president David Maxwell gives a brief introduction, followed by a greeting from debate moderator George Stephanopoulos, who shall hereafter be noted as "GS" in this post.  David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register is now entering the hall.  He’s going to ask questions of the candidates as well. 

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King’s “homecoming” features Brownback, Tancredo

Congressman Steve King’s Homecoming event in Odebolt was billed as a three-fer — three GOP presidential candidates would speak this Saturday night. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback and Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo did. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee didn’t.

"(Huckabee) called me last night," King told the crowd.  "…He wanted to be here.  He planned to be here but one thing went right and one thing went wrong.  Today is his wife’s birthday and the thing that went wrong was that he had a pipe break in his house and it flooded an entire floor, so he had the choice of being here with us while his wife celebrated her birthday alone, pulling up wet carpet, or being down there keeping peace in the family and so I endorse his judgement and express his regrets."

Brownback said something which I could not catch.

"I know.  I know.  The Senators aren’t very merciful when it comes to these things, but us House members, we’re forgiving Sam," King replied, referencing his congressional colleague, Tancredo.

The speeches started at about 7:30 p.m.  I had arrived in Odebolt two hours earlier and made a stop at Cubby’s, a convenience store.  I picked up a couple of bottles of water and waited in line behind Ken Uhl of Lawton, who was paying for his gas.

Uhl had been to a Tancredo event earlier in the day and he was wearing his Tancredo sticker right above the front pocket on his blue shirt. Uhl asked if the store would take a check and the clerk behind the counter replied, "Yes."

Uhl dug his checkbook out of his back pocket and began to write out the check.  The clerk behind the counter mentioned the Tancredo sticker and said: "I’ve been listening to that guy on the radio.  I like what he says."

Turns out the clerk is an immigrant from County Cork, Ireland who told Uhl he went about becoming an American citizen "the right way."

"I had to hire a lawyer,too," the clerk added.

Uhl, the Tancredo backer, suggested the Irishman would have saved himself a lot of time by just going to Mexico and getting a "coyote" to help him get into the U.S. 

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Dodd: hope not enough

Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, one of the Democratic presidential candidate (and who goes by Chris now on his campaign & official Senate websites) spoke this evening in Des Moines. 

"I thought I’d made a mistake and gone to New Hampshire," Dodd said to open things up — a reference, of course, to the snow falling gently at Des Moines International Airport upon his arrival this evening.  He opened with his standard joke about the old woman who asked him "who the hell are you?" while he was giving a speech "just a few weeks ago" in Connecticut.  Dodd told folks he’s reading the biography John Culver wrote of Henry Wallace (the Iowan who served as US Vice President).  He saluted former Iowan Dick Clark. Dodd claimed Tom Harkin as "one of my dearest friends."  He called Congressman Leonard Boswell "Len" (I don’t know anybody who calls Boswell "Len") and referred to State Senator Jack Hatch of Des Moines, a Connecticut native, as a "Yankee nutmeg" (that is apparently a slight if one knows something about Connecticut).

Dodd then launched into his speech text, which he read in somewhat of a hurry.  The "text as prepared for delivery" is after the jump:

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Romney at Rube’s

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign invited folks to Rube’s Steakhouse in Montour for lunch today — a sirloin steak, baked potato, and salad were on the menu.  Rube’s is known for letting customers grill their own steaks, but for this occasion Rube’s owner Matt Anderson and his staff grilled the sirloin themselves. 

Once he got there Romney chatted with folks as they came in, then made his way up and down the tables introducing himself to the 130 people who were seated, slicing up their sirloins.  It was a room decorated with red-checkered table cloths and neon-sign advertisements for beer, including one sign appealing to hunters with its neon outline of a pheasant with the declaration "Budweiser Iowa" underneath.  Alcohol was not offered for this noon-hour event, however.  Coffee, tea, water and lemonade were the liquid options. Romney chose lemonade, which he poured for himself, managing to balance the glass of lemonade and his plate of salad in one hand as he greeted folks who came by with the other hand.

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Bush talks about Pelosi, but not by name

President Bush made a campaign speech in Des Moines mid-day today, and began with the customary recognition of GOP dignitaries in the audience.  Bush picked one statewide elected official who is running for re-election this year — and has no Democratic opponent.

"I ran into State Auditor Dave Vaudt.  I said ‘How’s your campaign going?’" Bush told the crowd, as many in the audience laughed.  Bush continued with the story:  "(Vaudt) said ‘Pretty good.’"  A few more hearty laughs.  "What’s it like to run unopposed?" Bush asked.  Bush laughed along with the crowd.  "Thanks for coming out," Bush told Vaudt.  "But I’m proud of you Dave, here with your wife Jeanie, and now that you’ve got a little spare time on your hands, why don’t you help our man get elected here in the third district?" The audience applauded.   

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